When Sebastian stepped onto the subway car, he was safe and relaxed. He was home after a military tour in a combat zone, and he had been visiting with friends. However, on his ride home, the car filled with people. With his back pushed up against a wall, Sebastian panicked. His pulse was racing, and his breathing increased. At the next stop, he ran off the car and to his apartment. This was not the first time Sebastian had a panic attack in a crowded, confined space. Sebastian was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and he told his story to Vanity Fair because he wanted others to understand what PTSD is and that it has treatments.
“Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods.”
― Peter A. Levine
The symptoms of PTSD can show themselves within hours or days of the event, but it can also take months or years for PTSD to develop. Whenever PTSD occurs, it is important to know what it is so that help can be sought. There are many effective treatments for PTSD. Thriveworks Newport News offers therapy for PTSD, and our therapists and psychologists have helped many people process what has happened to them and how to feel safe again.
Risk Factors for PTSD
Not everyone who lives through a trauma will develop PTSD. Whether PTSD occurs or not has nothing to do with whether an individual is resilient or capable or strong. Instead, the risk factors for PTSD are often outside of an individual’s control. PTSD is more likely to develop when an individual has…
- Lived through an acute or on-going trauma.
- A family history of mental illness—depression and anxiety in particular.
- An unsupportive social and emotional network—few or uncaring family members and friends.
- A job where they are regularly exposed to the potential of trauma: first responder, military personnel, ER doctor, police office, and more.
- Experienced other traumatic events in their past—particularly child abuse or neglect.
- A current or past addiction or history of substance abuse.
- Difficulty with brain functioning—how it releases and regulates hormones when endangered, threatened, or stressed.
- Experienced long-term, intense trauma.
Trauma can come in any shape or form. No list could contain all the situations where trauma can occur, but a few common types of trauma include combat exposure, physical assault, sexual violence, receiving a terminal diagnosis, childhood abuse (sexual, physical, or emotional), being threatened, being bullied, experiencing an accident (fire, car crash, et cetera), and more.
“Very minor threats can be experienced, by what the signals in your body tell you, as, ‘You’re in acute danger’”
—Sandra Bloom, former president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
PTSD has several different types of symptoms:
New, Contrary Feelings and Thoughts
Trauma can change people’s thinking patterns. It can alter the way they view themselves, the event, other people, and the world. If people have PTSD, they may believe…
- The world is not a safe place—ever.
- People cannot be trusted, and relationships are harmful.
- The trauma should be forgotten and never spoken of.
PTSD can cause people to reorder their lives so that they avoid everything that remotely reminds them of the event. People often desperately want to escape the trauma, but in their avoidance, they may also cut out many good things that life has to offer. Avoidance can take any form, but people may,
- Stop driving or riding in a car—especially if the trauma involved a car accident.
- Refuse to meet friends because they do not want to be out in a crowd or feel trapped.
- Avoid the news, TV, movies, and other forms of media.
Re-living the Event
PTSD may leave people stuck in the trauma in that they relive the event, again and again. At inopportunity and unplanned times, images and feelings that are associated with the trauma can arise. Reliving the trauma may look like…
- Intrusive memories or flashbacks that feel very real—like the event is happening again.
- Particular sounds, sights, or smells that trigger the trauma.
- Nightmares and terrors that are filled with fear and anxiety.
The event may have passed in time and space, but PTSD can leave people constantly alert to the danger. Hyperarousal can exhaust people and look like…
- An easy startle response to loud noises or surprises.
- The inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Difficulty focusing on a particular task.
Appointments for PTSD Treatment at Thriveworks Newport News
Did you recognize any of the signs, symptoms, or risk factors for PTSD? If you did, know that help is available. PTSD can be a crippling mental illness, but there are treatment options for it. When people reach out to Thriveworks Newport News for help with PTSD, our therapists offer them a personalized treatment plan. We know your trauma is a sensitive wound. We are walked with many clients as they find healing.
If you are ready to get started on PTSD treatment, so are we. When you call our office, a scheduling specialist will answer and help you make an appointment. Weekend and evening sessions are offered. New clients often meet with their counselors or psychologists within 24 hours of their first call, but we do not keep a waitlist. Instead, we want our clients to receive the help they need when they need it. We also accept a number of insurance plans. Call today.